Who Gets to Choose Who You Are?

Actor/Comedian Steve Martin used to lead his audience in “The Non-Conformist Oath”:

STEVE MARTIN: And now, let’s repeat the nonconformist oath. I promise to be different.

AUDIENCE: I promise to be different.

STEVE MARTIN: I promise to be unique.

AUDIENCE: I promise to be unique.

STEVE MARTIN: I promise not to repeat things other people say.

AUDIENCE: (Dissolves into laughter).

In my last blog, I talked about the four different personality types: earth, fire, water, and wind. Now I’m going to add another aspect. In addition to your Natural State – your personality that you were born with – there are two other states. Today, I’ll talk about you in your Social State.

Let’s say for a moment that you are a born Water. You have a need to feel understood and valued, and to have closeness in your relationships. But through an accident of birth, you were born to Earth parents. They provided you with a great deal of consistency and predictability, but few answers to your constant, “Why? But why, Mom?” Your innate instinct is to reach out to people on an emotional level, but your parents tended to reward a less impulsive, more systematic approach to life. You learn that you “should” behave as an Earth. Your parents weren’t being malicious or insensitive; they were simply instinctively responding to behaviors that felt “right” to them.

Because humans are social creatures, we tend to accommodate social norms, and we feel very uncomfortable if we go too far astray. So, to some degree, we are all conformists – oaths notwithstanding. The danger, and the tragedy, really, is when we work so hard to squeeze into the norm that we lose our native personalities in the process. This places us under a great deal of continual stress, and inhibits us from reaching self actualization.

I want to make it clear that no one personality type is better than another. Earth, Wind, Fire and Water each have their own palatte of gifts and needs. Each also tends to react in a predictable way when placed under sever stress:

• Waters tend to turn inward, becoming depressed, withdrawn and worrisome. Their energy levels decline noticeably.

• Winds tend to respond to stress with rebellion, drama, arguments, and reckless behavior.

• Earths can become controlling, suspicious and stubborn. They may attempt to regain a feeling of control by building a defensive shell around themselves or withholding cooperation.

• Fires tend to be more fiery, reacting with open anger and apparent heartlessness.

Our self actualization depends on understanding who we are, why we react the way we do, and how to make intentional choices about behaviors that will lead to our ultimate success. The more you acknowledge and act within your core personality, the more fulfillment you’ll feel, and the more empowered you’ll be to reach for the kind of success that is perfect for you.

Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation, leadership, and teams. His tools and methods have helped hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of people transform the ways they work and live. To learn more, visit www.theheroschoice.com.


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